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TRAILER: ‘Spirit Riding Free’ Takes The Dreamworks Franchise In A New Direction

Remember the 2002 hand-drawn Dreamworks feature Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron starring the voice of Matt Damon?

Well, it’s no longer a feature. And it’s no longer hand-drawn. And Matt Damon is no longer voicing Spirit.

Dreamworks Animation Television’s new cgi spinoff series Spirit Riding Free could have been presented as an original concept, but it would appear that for branding purposes they retained the name and character from the earlier Oscar-nominated feature film. Six 22-minute episodes will debut exclusively May 5 on Netflix. Here’s the trailer:

The star of Spirit Riding Free is city-turned-country girl Lucky, who is described as “courageous” and “gutsy,” and who befriends the wild mustang Spirit. The girl-power series will follow the adventures she has with her two new best friends, Pru and Abigail, and their respective horses. The trio will also “find genuine friendship and discover what it means to be free.”

Showrunner and executive producer Aury Wallington (Sex and the City, Heroes, Veronica Mars) acknowledges that the series is different from the film. “When DreamWorks said they wanted to do a show based on the movie, I was really excited by the thought of having the film’s tone and sense of freedom and adventure,” Wallington told Kidscreen recently. “But none of the characters are the same. It’s the next generation from the movie told to the next generation of audiences.”

Jim Schumann (Robot & Monster, Monsters vs. Aliens) is co-executive producer.

  • Jacob D Johnston

    “Takes franchise in a new direction.” Yeah, down the shitter!!! >:(

    • Sindy Pop

      Backwards not sideways
      Forwards not upwards

      • Jacob D Johnston

        ???

  • CGI

    My name is CGI,
    My job is to destroy all your loved franchise.

    • Fried

      “My name is 2D.
      My job is to destroy all your loved franchises.”
      — Disney DTV Sequels

      Yeah, don’t blame the CG. Dragon, Kung Fu Panda, Puss in Boots, and Penguins were all fine series.

      • Capital_7

        Lol. No. No, they’re not. They’re just not.

        • Fried

          Oh, well, you sure showed me. Guess that’s the final ruling on all those shows and CG is the bane of all animation.

        • Netko

          They may have been mediocre but they weren’t something like this where they completely screw up the whole point of the original movie.

  • Fredster

    This just feels like a generic modern cg kids series with a random dreamworks property shoehorned in…

  • osa3l

    This is bad and they should feel bad.
    Looks like a common Barbie movie.

    • Maddie Saurus Rex

      I couldnt agree more

  • Julie Warnant

    seriously it would have been way better to just make it a new IP. now it just hurt to see spirit in 3d and the copy of scenes of the movie where the whole point was that he (and the wild) stayed free. I am all up for shows like this but don’t try to paste a franchise into something its not. it feels fake. Like…. as a girl who own horses and work in animation a show like this would have been great for me as a kid! but no need to bring spirit into that. (unless of course they just want the money that the name will bring.) I love the original movie for what it told and this show seems to trample all over that. (and my little sisters who are normally big fan of anything with horses too where not impressed with the trailer either just because of how spirit is used there. The original movie being their favourite I totally understand them.)

  • Andres Molina

    First, they shut down PDI, then they cancelled Larrikins, and now they’re rebooting already established films into a generic CGI kids show. Seriously, Dreamworks is already dealing with a crisis, expanding too fast with overseas facilities which are currently being shut down, closing down their best and most influential division, PDI, and they’re currently producing and airing over 12 TV shows, they don’t need another show to add the stress and pressure onto the already struggling studio. I think if they want to get back up, they need to reduce the amount of films being made every year, shrink the amount of tv show being made. (and keep 4-5 of their most acclaimed tv shows of the 11), reopen PDI and take more risks with the films they produce. But yeah, they need to refocus their strategy and find a clear vision of they want to to heal.

  • Dante Panora

    Who is this made for? Spirit is a particularly well-remembered Dreamworks movie, and the kids who saw it in theaters are probably uninterested in this point. Heck it would have made more sense for an El Dorado series, I still hear people talking about that on occasion.

    • Marielle

      … Why not make an El Dorado series? They’ve been making series about anything and everything. That movie ended with the two friends and their girlfriend walking off into the Mexican jungle looking for new adventures. There’s something to be done there.

      • Netko

        Same with Sinbad. Hell, even the Prince of Egypt would technically be a more reasonable choice for a series despite its theme not being PC nowadays (it got a direct-to-dvd sequel/spinoff after all). Spirit is literally the most pointless 2D Dreamworks animated movie to get this kind of attention.

    • Gizzy Lerms

      *is it* well remembered though?

      And yes, the kids who saw it in theaters are all adults now, so it shouldn’t matter that a younger generation are getting their own little show.

  • Elsi Pote

    Ponies and unicorns are in, half baked CGI movie not!

  • Cameron Ward

    I don’t get why they wouldn’t get the animation team behind their Voltron series to do this. Spirit had great animation and beautiful scenery with atmospheric moments…this just looks like a cynical 80s kids show to sell toys…

    • Gizzy Lerms

      As opposed to the “authentic” turn of the century shows to sell toys?

      • Cameron Ward

        just in general it looks like a show that was meant for merchandising than anything. Yes, Spirit was not their most super critically well received film, but it was ambitious for the company. This just looks like that soulless cash grab. it’s super disappointing.

  • Netko

    Where to even start…
    Was it too much to ask for at least one line from Spirit? Just to pretend like they care about the original movie? Having the main character from a movie about a horse earning his freedom be owned by a little girl and say it will “teach about friendship and what it means to be free” is a punch in the face of the original movie. It’s missing the point to an embarrassing degree and negates what it was supposed to have accomplished. Not only did the movie not need a sequel by any measure, but the series just looks like some Horseland-type of show for little girls, so what’s the point of making it? Little children didn’t even exist when Spirit came out and the majority of them have never even heard of the movie. So why not just make a horse series for little girls without dragging Spirit’s old, rotten corpse into it, since obviously the original movie has nothing to do with this beyond the design of the main horse? Even his personality and the setting are messed up.
    And hah, “city-turned-country girl Lucky” um, that’s what cities looked like back in the day? Does a city in Spirit’s time have skyscrapers maybe? I didn’t even register that this was supposed to take place in the Wild West until I wondered how they’re going to explain Spirit being in modern times. Why do adults in charge of these shows think kids can’t handle things like non-modern settings? Kids are used to not understanding everything and they love seeing new things. You really don’t need to make everything generic and “relatable” in order to make kids care about something, their brains aren’t going to explode the moment they see a setting that isn’t modern and American.

  • Jason McArthur

    why? is all I will say!!!

  • Daniel

    “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron” was one of only a handful of films in my life that I actually walked out of the theatre on because I hated it so much.

    • JAAAAAAMES BAXTER

      The only good thing about Spirit is that it is responsible for giving us one of the best Adventure Time episodes. Thank you James Baxter!

  • Inkan1969

    The original movie made a big deal about Spirit never being broke. It’s disconcerting, then, to read how Spirit’s direct descendant is broke by little girls.

    • Gizzy Lerms

      Oh no! Not little girls! That makes it all the more shameful since little girls are so whimpy and pathetic! /s

      Spirit wasn’t broken, but he was ridden. He decided to co-operate with a person, and the film was pretty clear that he wasn’t being “controlled” or “dominated”

      You haven’t seen the show, maybe it will do the same thing?

  • elliot Lobell

    Is he really riding free? Or is he being forced into slave labor by that little girl on his back?

  • A multiracial cast of girls exploring modern definitions of “freedom” on horseback? Hells yeah, this is my jam. But one thing strikes me as a miss here: Spirit refused to be ridden by a human. The movie ended with him and his human companion parting ways, never having had a master/servant relationship. That was the point: SPIRIT WOULDN’T BE BROKEN.

    That was pretty powerful stuff. Seeing someone riding Spirit strikes me as undoing the beauty of that ending.

    But still, girls on horseback, learning about Freedom. There are worse premises for a series.

  • Yo

    But how is the animation so much worse? Surely there are better tools available nowadays o.o this is awful and the world is ending

  • GabzGirl

    Oh God NOOOO what have they done??

  • Marc Hendry

    seems like a bizarre choice for adaptation, in any case, let’s take a moment to remember James Baxter’s mind blowing animation in the original movie, cheesy as the film may be https://sakugabooru.com/post/show/15954

  • Pedro Nakama

    I’m assuming we’re all adults commenting here and if this series is bothersome to us then there might be a bigger problem than this series.

    • Netko

      Even ignoring the fact that “It’s for kids” is just about the lamest excuse for terrible decision-making and shoddy work you can think of, you do realize that the people making this are not children, right? And neither is anyone working on kids’ shows. You understand that an adult had to look at a 15-year-old property and think it’s fitting for this kind of show based on some pathetic “adult” idea of name recognition being the #1 factor in greenlighting something (ironically a name that most children don’t even know about)? No-one has a problem with the fact that some horse-themed show for little girls exists, the problem is slapping a name of a movie on it that has nothing to do with anything in the show and in fact goes contrary to its whole point. Yeah, let’s make a generic kids’ show about little girls happily riding horses based on a movie about a horse who constantly refuses to be tamed! Let’s also make it extra girly, childish and modern despite the original movie being the opposite of that.

      • Fried

        Yes. It’s called “brand recognition” and execs these days have a severely warped view of it to the point where they think a reboot of CHiPs is somehow more profitable than an original buddy-cop movie.

        Part of the hand waving isn’t just “It’s for kids” but also most of the people in a tizzy over this act like this is the first atrocity Hollywood has done to a franchise. I don’t know how people have not gotten numb to these kinds of tactics when it’s been going on since Walt’s “Don’t Read the Book” Jungle Book movie.

        • Netko

          Ah, your classic “If stupid things keep happening, people shouldn’t talk about stupid things happening” retort. Can you just not comment every time you’re going to write this? Because replying with “You shouldn’t complain about problems because these problems exist in large numbers” is just about the most pointless and illogical comment I can think of that someone could make on this site. Not only does it contribute nothing except talking about how people who disagree with you shouldn’t comment but the very idea that a problem somehow gets better the more it keeps happening goes contrary to reason.
          Here’s a thought, how about you take your own advice since you’re the only one who thinks it makes sense? Next time you see people comment on things like this, simply don’t say anything. In fact, every time you decide to comment on anything, apply your own logic and ask yourself: “Is this the first time in history such a thing has happened or is being discussed?”. If the answer is no, don’t “get in a tizzy”.
          Also, just because something has happened in the past does not mean it was equally problematic. Remakes and reboots have always existed, but never in such large numbers. You can’t pretend that frustrating trends don’t exist just for the sake of some poorly-thought-out “it was all the same in the past” argument. It wasn’t and that’s a fact.

          • Fried

            Because there is a difference between screaming in the air everytime a Space Jam type product occurs and actually talking to someone one-on-one. This is one-on-one, all you’re doing is preaching to the choir about commercialism. There is no discussion to have because there was never one and you aren’t looking to have an opposing arguments about them. If someone were to tell you this is being done because Dreamworks has a series deal with Netflix and is rapidly losing money, you would still shoot that down and pass it off as an “excuse” as to why this, that, and the other thing should have been done instead of bastardizing Spirit because you don’t want to talk about why things are, you just want to bitch about them existing.

          • Netko

            I’m guessing you missed the fact that my comment also was a “1on1” reply to someone else. Though even if that wasn’t the case, why in the world does it matter if a comment is a reply or not? There is no 1on1 here, everyone can reply to everyone else. Of course you understand that if you actually took your own advice, you’d never comment on anything. Not nice when the opinions that are supposed to be shut down are actually your own, huh?

            A discussion actually does not mean providing opposing views, not at all. A discussion means to discuss something, to talk about it. You can discuss different aspects of a book everyone likes, you do not need a directly opposing view to do it. What discussion is not is people saying only what you want them to say, and everyone else should shut up because “this problem has existed since Jungle Book”, which is factually wrong and again, the larger scope of the problem does not make the problem less relevant. So again, since you are so opposed to these kinds of comments “bitching” and talking about things that, gasp, are not the first thing in existence that’s happened, why are you bitching for the 100th time about other people bitching? At least people are bitching about a crappy show, you are literally bitching about people bitching.

            I think the idea that shallow corporate decisions like this are fine just because they want money is moronic, but that is your own opinion and that is not specifically what I have a problem with in this case. No, my problem is with this whole act of yours where you keep trying to dictate what people should and shouldn’t talk about solely because you don’t agree with them and you don’t think it’s a problem. If you want to defend these corporations, as you usually do, fine, do it. But don’t try to wrap it up in some ridiculous idea that people shouldn’t “bitch” about the problems in the industry because “it keeps happening”, all the while you’re making the most useless, repetitive comment on this site. And yes, even “it’s ok because corporations love money” is contributing something at least and isn’t just telling everyone to shut up because you disagree with what they’re saying.

          • Fried

            I never said “people shouldn’t talk about it”, not once. I said “get in a tizzy”, “screaming in the air”, and “preaching to the choir about commercialism”. Because that’s all you’re doing. Most of the comments here are not people having a discussion, they’re people in a frenzy over the destruction of Spirit, and that’s the part that is baffling. The thing I’m confused by is how people like you still have the energy to be furious at stuff like a Tom & Jerry crossover, a live action reboot, Disney-Pixar winning an award, or a medicore TV series.

            And that’s exactly what your other comment in this entire section is. Just one big dissection of you getting in a huff over a bad spin-off series for a 15-year old movie that barely broke even that no one has even thought about since Dreamworks started making Shrek-esque movies. It’s almost absurd for anyone to get upset at that scenario. Dreamworks has so far managed to keep the same tone of their films for many of their other projects: Croods, Puss in Boots, Home, Kung Fu Panda, Dragons, Monster Vs Aliens, Peabody and Sherman, TURBO, that I’m willing to overlook this even if people are getting mad over the principle of it because, as far this company is concerned, this is just one smudge on an otherwise decent record they’ve had with TV series that are pretty consistent to their movies.

            But of course, no one pays attention to the whole picture, they see this and claim it the downfall of Dreamworks and how bad of a company they are because they cancelled a 2D-hybrid project despite not knowing the story and immediately write off Trolls and Boss Baby on concept alone. And if I’m ever to say, “Well hey, they’re shows are pretty good” people will go, “Nah, they’re shit” like they did above and then whine because Larrikins got cancelled even though the only thing they’ve seen of the project is pretty art.

            If you want to get mad at something, actually channel your rage into the proper outputs of who is to blame why Dreamworks is losing money, why they’ve become desperate to the point of digging up old properties, why they keep shutting down studio after studio and outsourcing, and why this company that was on a very brief high streak suddenly fell so far while Minions goes on to gross a billion dollars. But having some in-depth breakdown on why this Spirit series is going to be crap because it loses the point of the movie ends up being a boring, pointless discussion that ends up being nothing but a bunch of people who suddenly think they have the inside knowledge to run a company.

            What is there to think about? This show looks mediocre. It’s not at all like the movie. I boiled down your entire post into two sentences. But I also know that Dragons and Trolls toys sell extremely well and they’re only doing this to be their own equivalent of a “Cars” easy market. So I don’t care. They need money, they keep losing money, they’re desperate, their merchandise and TV department is doing better than their movie department, they have a Netflix deal. Am I suppose to be furious that a struggling company sometimes whores out an old property? It’s amazing that this studio can even sometimes put out entertaining work like the Trolls movie or Croods series given how bad of a position they always look like they’re in.

            If I am to get mad at something, it’s to be something like Pixar who already makes $700+ mil a film feeling its necessary to make another Toy Story when their original movies are blockbusters almost every time. A rich, successful company doesn’t need to whore out its properties, though I still won’t judge the movie’s quality on that alone since every piece of Toy Story franchise has been entertaining, including the Buzz Lightyear cartoon. But getting mad at a desperate company for being desperate? Surely there’s better things to be mad about in the entire animation industry.

            Would you also like to be mad at the Alpha and Omega series that’s just a bunch of watered down CG crap used to make money? Or all the below average cartoons Teletoon pumps out in order meet a Canadian law quota? You know Surf’s Up 2 came out on DVD a few months ago, looks bad. Let’s complain about that. I mean, if all it takes for a discussion is to just complain about mediocre things, I guess that’s the kind of conversation you find thrilling and isn’t at all tedious. Hey, next Disney trailer that is uploaded, make sure to whine about how they’ll win the Best Animation Award, of course. Because just saying everything in the industry sucks is a great way to like your medium.

          • Netko

            First of all, this isn’t some random cartoon for toddlers made by some random company, so why you’re acting like it is is beyond me. Second, this whole idea that companies ‘need’ to ruin their properties or produce complete garbage in order to make money is absurd. There was no need to make this show about Spirit. Not at all. They could’ve made it a regular girly horse show and no-one would care. Dragging Spirit’s rotten corpse into it is laughable even from a “gotta make all the money”-point because kids have never heard of Spirit and adults who have are too old to watch a generic horse show for little girls that in no way resembles the original, and that kind of desperation deserves to be mocked for entertainment. Of course if the people in charge weren’t such morons and they still really wanted that “Spirit” show, they could’ve made it into something that could appeal to more than one demographic, something that’s REALLY not hard to imagine considering the original movie had a more mature lean. Yes, believe it or not, it is possible to make a successful animated series that appeals to both kids and older audiences, in fact the only ones who don’t believe it are corporate braindead vultures and their minions who are convinced we live in a world where reboots and generic derivatives are the only thing that makes money, and keep believing it no matter how many times they’re proven wrong. Thinking there’s a simple formula for success which you can duplicate every time is easier than putting in some effort and hiring people who are creative and competent.

            So can you stop freaking out and pulling your hair out over people disapproving of idiotic corporate decisions and disagreeing with you?You’ve got lots of people who think that greed makes every product churned out justifiable, plenty of those who’ll parrot “it’s just for kids” and “companies need money” and I’m sure that’s more thrilling for you than just channelling your rage into an endless stream of “shut up”s to everyone who doesn’t support parasitic corporate mentality. Bottom line is, if you have an opinion, even if it’s as trite and laughable as “money”, share it and stop hiding behind some ridiculous idea that people shouldn’t talk about anything that isn’t licking the animation industry’s feet because you don’t like hearing it. Or just take your advice and don’t write anything at all.

            Also there are plenty of other things in the industry to be mad about, but in case you haven’t noticed, this is an article specifically about Spirit, the new DW show and believe it or not people possess the ability to think and talk about more than one thing a month. So, again, take your own advice if you think it has any merit and don’t waste your oh-so-precious time instead of telling others that they can’t comment on Spirit…in an article about Spirit.

  • In terms of the Humans’ clothing, certain physical features, interactions w/each other,
    there is a lot, and I do mean A LOT, missing.

  • Sindy Pop

    Nobody wants this
    Stop before I unleash the wrath of brain Adams

  • Maddie Saurus Rex

    Why did it have too be spirit? Why couldnt they just make it a grey horse or something and name her like Misty
    Call it Misty wild and free I thought of that in like 2 seconds wasnt hard
    if you wanna reboot spirit dont make it look like a barbie movie instead have it where hes wild and free with his family and I dunno They have too escape from people destroying their land
    not this
    the style is so gross and cringey its awful

  • Stormy Overton

    I hate when they turn good movies into shitty looking cartoons, it’s sad

  • Gizzy Lerms

    The girl in this show looks one billion times better than the little girl in the care bears show.

  • Gizzy Lerms

    There’s a little cynical voice in the back of my head thinking that some executives in a dark tower are just spouting out all the ways they can exploit a consumer market of young girls who like horses and adventure, and carefully calculating all the toys they can make and sell with this IP. But at the same time, I watched the crap out of Spirit when I was a kid, and I could absolutely see myself growing up, pitching a cartoon about little girls going on horseback adventures, and working their IP into the series in order to exploit the established property to sell my labour of love to both financers and an audience, so I’m keeping an open mind in spite of the cynical voice.

    I just want to ask everyone take a moment and think back to the Ghostbusters movie and the spinoff series that came out of it, and ask yourselves how much you cried about them ruining the IP back then when you were kids (or had kids who watched it if you’re a dinosaur)

    It’s hilarious seeing people moaning now about an IP spin-off series for a movie nobody cared about for the past fifteen years, didn’t do very well, and so few people have any kind of emotional attachment to.

    And for the record, I would have preferred the CGI in the show emulate the CG used in the film, using 2D style shaders, but I think it actually looks fine, and I think it will be entertaining and fun for the audience it was created for. Kids who were *so much like me* growing up, who would have loved a cartoon about horses being ridden by spirited young girls. I could see myself working on/pitching a show like this, and I could see watching it with my kids, even if its lame ass 3D animation.